Monday, February 6, 2012


Last Saturday afternoon, after devouring a chicken and spaghetti meal at Jollibee, I went to one of Brunei’s Museum located in Kota Batu. Since I thought that the last time I waltzed into an educational hub was when I was in college, which was a requirement in our history class, I decided to (why not and for a change) visit Brunei’s MUZIUM.

To my surprise, I enjoyed my visit in the museum. Indeed, it was a refreshing experience to at least know more about Brunei, my home for more than 3 years now.

Read on to know more.

At first, I was a bit hesitant to go in the museum. Although I just wanted to unwind in a place where I can also learn, the thought of seeing ghosts or apparitions inside the historic ensemble was inevitable. Oddly, the idea of experiencing something eerie excited me! Mahilig kasi ako mag-imagine ng mga bagay-bagay especially when I’m in a place where old or vintage stuff are displayed. Eventually, with gusto and bravery, I found myself in the museum.

Brunei’s Museum in Kota Bato is not as big compared to Museums in the Philippines. However, as I heard, the other museum in Bandar Seri Begawan is bigger. With a mental note, I promise to visit that museum as well.

By 3:30, I was already in the museum. The museum wasn't hard to find. It's located on the right side (if you're heading to Kota Bato) of the road. The signage was also big enough for visitors not to miss.

The museum's facade
 Historically, in reference to the brochure in the lobby that I got, Muzium Brunei was first established in 1965 and was officially opened in 1972. From then, it has become a vital centre for displaying the archeology, ethnology and natural history of Brunei and Islamic art. With this information, I got excited to see the, of course, the history of Brunei, which has been my second home for more than three years now.

When I arrived in the lobby, I was informed that I’m not allowed to bring a bag, a camera or mobile phone inside the galleries. So I deposited my stuff in the locker. Ako lang ang naglagay. Self-service ika nga.Then, I started to move around.

There were few people. Most of them were foreigners. Yung iba, puti at yung iba naman ay possibleng from Malaysia, Indonesia and India. Probably, it's not the peak season of visits in Brunei. Or, probably, other tourists are in the other museum in Bandar. 

In the lobby, some people were taking pictures of themselves in some life-size cut-outs of Brunei's tarsier, monkeys and more. Since kadarating ko pa lang and I'm really ecstatic to walk inside, I immediately entered to the first gallery.

This is where foreigner get most of their snapshot fix!

As I observed, the museum had two floors with 3 galleries each. On the first floor, I visited the gallery on Biodiversity, the History and Technology of Brunei Darussalam’s Petroleum Gallery, and the Islamic Art Gallery. On the second floor, the ASEAN gallery was housed. Also, it had the Natural History Gallery, Brunei Traditional Culture Gallery, and Brunei Darussalam Archeology and History Exhibition.

I didn’t engage any tour guide in the museum. I was alone and I preferred to explore the place by my own. All I had was a pen and a notebook to jot down some notes.

In the first galleries that I visited, I enjoyed seeing the gallery on biodiversity. It was like looking back in one of those educational fieldtrips in my science class. From mammals, insects, to reptiles and even birds, it was just fascinating. Yes, I encountered a lot of scientific names!

The entrance to the Biodiversity Gallery

In the Oil and Gas gallery, I was amazed to take a look on the oil production in Brunei.
From exploring the big ships, office systems and mind-boggling highly-powered and digital based stations that were depicted via pictures, I learned how Brunei prioritizes their number one source in making a benchmark in local and global market. On the side, I read that Brunei Shell Petroleum is a joint venture between his Majesty’s government and Shell.

The entrance to the oil and gas gallery

In the Islamic Art Gallery, I loved seeing the metal works. There were also some calligraphy, ceramics, jewelleries, and a lot more. What more piqued my interest were the old jars, the golden scissors, and a lot of imported and well-preserved holy books.

The entrance to the majestic gallery!

After an hour, I went to the second floor.

In the second floor, Brunei’s history highlighted. On the side, there was some exhibitions of the ASEAN countries. Meanwhile, in another gallery, there was a set-up of Brunei’s traditions and cultural artifacts. From the genealogy of the Sultan Sultan of Brunei, up to cultural practices such as games, food, and other domesticated habits, everything was clearly showed.

In my tour in the second floor, I realized that Brunei had their traditional games such as sepak raga (Sepak Takraw), Sungka (Congkak) and Sentuh Kikik (Kite), which are similar to ours, the Philippines.

On the side, I had the chance to review the the history of colonization up to the independence of Brunei. As I walked back to memory lane, it was pleasurable to see the old (set in black and white) pictures of Brunei's early civilization. There were also a line-up of well-documented photos of Brunei's Sultan in different domestic and national activities.

Overall, I learned some interesting facts about Brunei's culture and traditions. As much as I wanted to watch some video presentations, I wasn't for (I guess) the videos were set for group viewing. Also, there was no one to assist me inside and I have to obey the thundering rule that says "Do not touch!" But despite not being able to watch the videos, I got more information by simply reading the posters and images.

Aesthetically speaking, the museum is able to provide the necessary information about the Abode of Peace. The museum, as always, with its exhibits and interactive designs represent a nation. From dioramas to posters, framed artifacts to texts, and even huge displays, a museum showcases what a country offer. In Brunei's Museum, I can say that religion, nature and great patriotism were predominantly encapsulates unique nationhood. Positively, despite being colonized, Brunei is able to preserve it's rich culture and tradition.

On the side, I just observed some details which the management could look at to improve the Museum's services. Apart from proof reading the spacing of some texts in posters and in displays, the museum could be conscious with spacing of displays. There was a portion in the Biodiversity gallery that a big display blocked the corner on whoever would want to read the information about a bird. Alternatively, perhaps the museum could work on some interactive dioramas and probably an added background sound effects or video could be played to hype the essence of remaking reality in visuals and texts such as in a museum.

While the Oil and Gas Gallery, Islamic Art Gallery and the Biodiversity Gallery were impressive, I suggest that the gallery on traditions and culture in the second floor should be improved more such as changing the mannequins and making it more cleaner. Some walls are also faded and needed repainting.

Nevertheless, my visit at Brunei's museum was very interesting. It wasn't only a visual spectacle, but in essence, I get to know the country's history and development.  Oddly, as I have huge and weird imagination, as I was walking in the hall of the Ceramics gallery, I imagined writing a horror story. And my visualization got even stronger when I was inside the other gallery that exhibited tombstoneS. #hahaha


So, if you’re interested to know more about Brunei, you may visit the museum in Kota Bato. In my case, my next stop will be in the museum in Bandar. Wanna join? How about let's organize an educational tour and enjoy a cup of pearl milk tea after? Let me know!

Brunei Muzium Visiting Hours
Sunday to Thursday: 
9 am to 5 pm

9 am – 11:30
 2:30 pm to 5 pm

9:45 to 5 pm

Last entry is 4:30 pm

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